When we were invited to apply for the editorship of Cultural Anthropology five and a half years ago, we had to step back and think long and hard. The speed-up of our jobs already felt excessive. And the invitation came at a time when we were spending a sabbatical year in Morocco under the balm of the Mediterranean sun. During daily walks in the kasbah of Tangier, we kept asking ourselves, Should we do this, and if so, whatever for, and with what vision for the journal? This we would debate, then go for sardines by the port.
In the end, we decided to proceed and were excited when chosen as editors. Though we were right about the workload (and what does it say about the labor of editing academic journals these days that our predecessors were also a couple and our successors a collective of three?), we’ve immensely enjoyed the intellectual engagement, the excitement of working with authors writing with such diverse theoretical palettes about such varied terrain, and the challenge of trying to keep tempo with the times—of trying to keep anthropology and the journal in sync with the world we inhabit. As we said when we assumed the editorship (Allison and Piot 2011, 1–5), we saw our mission as trying to think expansively about the anthropological endeavor while fostering the highest standards of scholarship: to publish work that was conversant with some iteration of the imponderabilia of everyday life, and also experimental in (writing/ethnographic) style, pioneering in theory-making, and sensitively engaged (in a political, ethical, or humanitarian sense) with what, for so many today, has become a crisis of presence. Anthropology, as we saw it then and still do, must be committed to generating ever-new ways of theorizing the world out of, and alongside, engagement in peoples’ lives. And, because of its epistemological commitment to studying lived worlds, anthropology must be responsive to and resonant with shifts in the times: with a world that is forever in a state of becoming.
During our tenure, we have been pleased not only with the excellence of the scholarship we were able to publish but also with the various initiatives we implemented: a number of special issues (on the futures of neoliberalism, race, Writing Culture at 25, and open access), new journal features (playlists), and especially the overhaul of our website and the transition to open access in February of this year, making Cultural Anthropology the first major American Anthropological Association journal to go OA. The website is exceedingly dynamic, housing the journal but also, as originally designed, expanding beyond scholarly articles. In addition to supplementary pages and curated collections, features we inherited from our predecessors Kim and Mike Fortun, we have added a number of others including the highly popular Hot Spots (series of short essays on politically volatile areas in the world today), Theorizing the Contemporary (series around ongoing theoretical debates), and Photo Essays (smartly conceived and edited by Michelle Stewart and Vivian Choi).
We are indebted to so many for all of the above. To those who contributed, labored, and inspired us during our tenure as editors, we thank you. This includes our two wonderful managing editors, Ali Kenner and Tim Elfenbein, without whom we could not have operated and who did so much for the website and the transition to OA; all the authors who gave us their best and then worked to make their contributions even better, and also those whose submissions did not make it into the journal (despite many being top quality); the reviewers who so generously gave of their time and wrote such substantive reviews; our editorial board who provided advice, reviews, and camaraderie during annual get-togethers at the AAAs; those graduate students of ours who worked as editorial assistants (Spencer, Brian, Nadia, Leigh, and Brian); Vani Subramanian who has produced one magical cover after another for the journal; the fastidious attention given the manuscripts by our copyeditors (Lisl, Sara, and Petra); the deans at Duke University who generously provided financial support and teaching release; the stable of graduate student interns from departments around the country who have been amazingly creative and generous in the labor they have given to produce content for the website; the members of the Society for Cultural Anthropology board who have given the journal and us as editors such continuous and thoughtful support; and all of you as readers who—in reading the journal and website—have kept Cultural Anthropology running as a site of excellence and innovation in the field today. Finally, we’re extremely pleased to pass the baton to the editorial team at Rice University—Dominic Boyer, Cymene Howe and James Faubion—whom we are sure will maintain and enhance Cultural Anthropology in all sorts of ways.
2011 “New Editors’ Greeting.” Cultural Anthropology 26, no. 1: 1–5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2010.01077.x.